Skip to main content

December 2010 Newsletter December 2010
Quick Links to Features on

What Did Your Group Read This Year?

It’s December!? Where did this year go? I can’t believe this is our last Monthly Newsletter of the year. Looking back through this year’s newsletters, I found myself reminiscing about the books we shared with you. It was quite a year!

With that in mind, we are interested in gathering a collective list of what groups read in 2010 --- and thus we want to know what books your book group discussed in 2010. Click here and give us a list of what your group read month by month. If you did not meet in a particular month, just write “Did Not Meet” in that slot. Also, you do not need to have attended the group discussion --- or read the book --- to add it. After all, we know many people’s schedules are hectic, and they may miss a month or two. Just include on the list what your group read each month.

Besides getting an opportunity to see the Most Discussed Titles in 2010, which we will release in February, we will be awarding prizes! 33 participating groups will be eligible to win 12 copies of a recently published or soon-to-be published book that is “book group perfect." You can see the entire list of books here. Note that prizes will be selected at random. This opportunity will be available until January 31, 2011 at 11:59PM ET, but may we suggest you click here now to list your book group’s titles?

My last few weeks had me in Miami and Orlando on bookish travel and San Francisco on vacation, which of course included bookstore visits. One of my favorite parts of the Miami Book Fair is getting to meet some new authors and see ones I know as well --- and just talk books in warm weather. And it was fun to see our readers as well. Miriam Kassanoff was in a few of the panels that I was in, and she told me about a book she would like to write that sounds really funny, or at least it has an irreverently funny title that we are keeping secret for now! Another reader, who I think said her name was Theresa McAllister, stopped by at the Carl Hiaasen/Scott Turow talk; she recognized me as I stood to take a photo of the crowd in the room. How? Because I was wearing turquoise. And I had my annual visit with Cristina Vasquez and her sister, Sarah, and her friend, Patty (you can see me pictured with them above). Once again there was not enough time to spend with any of the folks. In fact, Cristina went to some panels that I could not make it to and was sending me text messages throughout the day alerting me to what was going on in other rooms, for which I was very grateful.

One author I was really excited to hear speak was Daphne Kalotay, pictured above, whose Russian Winter we featured earlier this year. About a week or so before I left for Miami, I got to start Russian Winter after hearing so much great feedback about it, and I can see why everyone kept telling me to read it. I just loved the rich story and setting --- a former ballerina in the Bolshoi Ballet reflecting on her life, career, and loves in Russia and America --- and just had a great time reading it. I can’t wait to finish it during my trip to the Outer Banks in a few weeks. This would definitely be a great pick for the historical fiction fan on your gift list. The paperback won't be available until April. I also got to meet Susanna Daniel, the author of Stiltsville, another of my Bets On selections, and Helen Simonson, the author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, which is just out in paperback and also is one of our Most Discussed Titles of 2010 prize selections. There is more extensive coverage of these events in the November 24th edition of the newsletter here and the November 19th edition of the newsletter here.

I am always asking groups what they are reading, and sometimes there is something that strikes a chord with me and I want to hear more about why a group selected a book and how their discussion went. This was the case with a book group from New Jersey that inspired our new Book Group Spotlight Feature. I heard through Susan Weinberg, a publisher friend, that her group, who only reads nonfiction, was reading The Wave: In Search of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey. She suggested that I interview Alice, who was one of the founders of the group. This was one of my favorite books of the year and a Bets On pick, so the timing was perfect. You can read my interview with Alice here, and if your group would like to participate in future Book Group Spotlights, please contact Maureen Linehan at [email protected]. We are looking for groups who have made interesting selections as well as ideas about how discussions went.

This month we also have two additional interviews with book groups. Our first interview is with Millenia, founder of The Reading Cove, an online book club. The second is with Courtney, a member of The Lucky Tuesday Night Book Club, based in Edmond, Oklahoma. You can see our entire series of book group interviews here. We also have a new poll this month asking if your book club meets during the holidays. Click here to vote. Our November poll asked, "On average, how would you grade your book club's discussions?" We had more than 400 responses, with more than 300 of you responding with a grade of A or B. Great work! If you're not one of those groups, maybe we can offer some suggestions to liven up your group in the new year.

In between travels, I managed to get some reading done this month. Over Thanksgiving, after I emerged from my turkey-induced coma, I literally did nothing that Friday except get a massage and read. I selected Deep Down True by Juliette Fay. Readers may remember her as she wrote Shelter Me, which was one of my early Bets On selections. In Deep Down True, Dana Stellgarten is newly divorced and still a bit jangled about it. She has two kids with divided lives shuffling between mom and dad, a niece who shows up on her doorstep in all her Goth glory, and enough drama to make a woman get a job! As she is thrown into the work and dating worlds, Dana becomes her own person. The book has great characters, a storyline that really moves, and some great, deep-down honesty as Dana figures out who she really is. I also love that she volunteers for something called Comfort Food, delivering meals to those who are ill; it’s nicely woven into the story. It will be in stores on January 25th, and I am picking it as a Bets On selection --- it will be perfect for book clubs! One more previous Bets On selection that will be perfect for book clubs is One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, which is also our newsletter contest book. Just by subscribing to our newsletter, you can win 20 copies for your group. One Amazing Thing will be available in paperback December 21st. There are more details at the end of this newsletter.

I also read a really wonderful book called
A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic. It’s one of those books where the story unfolds and unfolds, and it gets better and better with each plot twist. See if this one line intrigues you: Samuel Szajkowski, a history teacher, walks into a school assembly and turns an ordinary day into a memorable one as he pulls a gun and kills three students and a co-worker before turning the gun on himself. You never thought of bullying quite like this. It’s tight, it makes you think, and when it’s done, you will think how well done it was. It released in hardcover in March and will be available in paperback on January 25th. It will be another Bets On pick and definitely is worthy of a book group discussion.

In other book group news, Oprah recently hosted her much-anticipated interview with Jonathan Franzen about his bestseller, Freedom, earlier this week. I have not yet had time to watch the interview but hope to soon. You can check out the full interview or various segments of the interview here. Oprah also named her latest pick, and made it a two-for-one with Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations have been packaged into one volume. You can get more information about her selection here.

Looking to get into the spirit of the holidays? Look no further than our holiday features over on, where we have three great features, which you can read more about below. In our Holiday Cheer Daily Contest, we’re giving away a different book from Monday to Thursday until December 23rd. Some days there may be a special bonus item, but you won’t know until you enter that day’s contest! Click here to receive a special daily newsletter featuring the day’s book.

Our What to Give, What to Get Gift Guide is full of great choices for all the book lovers on your list. We’re featuring a variety of titles across 14 different categories, so there’s sure to be something for that bookish family member, friend or co-worker. Even better, there may be something for yourself.

The Author Holiday Blogs are always one of my favorite projects of the year. This year we have more than 40 authors sharing their personal holiday stories. Some are funny, some are personal, some are heartfelt. We post a new piece every day, but if you can’t visit, don’t can read through the entire series here.

Lots of ways to celebrate this season. We wish you all the happiest of holiday seasons. We appreciate you and look forward to sharing more book club-friendly books with you in 2011. We already have quite a lineup scheduled for the first three months of the year, and I plan to spend a couple of weeks on the Outer Banks over the holiday reading ahead.

Make some great memories….

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])


STAY WITH ME by Sandra Rodriguez Barron

In 1979, five toddlers were found alone in a luxury boat tied to a dock in Puerto Rico after a devastating hurricane. No one knew who they were or where they came from. Raised by different families, they remained connected by a special bond --- always considering themselves siblings, despite their unknown blood relations. Intensely gripping and lyrically written, Stay with Me is a magnificent blend of romance, suspense, atmosphere and intrigue that brilliantly explores the true meaning of family and the remarkable ways a personal history can paint a future.

Click here to read the guide for Stay with Me.

SALTING ROSES by Lorelle Marinello

Gracie Lynne Calloway --- once left in a coal bucket on a front porch in a small Alabama town --- discovers on her 25th birthday that she is the kidnapped daughter of a late New England financier and heiress to a fortune. When the tabloid press and her unwanted greedy relatives descend on her, she has to admit the quiet secure life she's known and loved is gone for good. As Gracie struggles to stabilize her world and come to terms with her new identity, she learns that belonging is not about where you came from but who you are.

Click here to read the guide for Salting Roses.

Share a List of Your Book Group's 2010 Year-End Selections --- and You Could Win Books for Your Group!

We are interested in gathering a collective list of what groups read in 2010, so we want to know what books your book group discussed in 2010. Click here and give us a list of what your group read month by month. If you did not meet in a particular month, just write “Did Not Meet” in that slot. Also, you do not need to have attended the group discussion --- or read the book --- to add it. After all, we know many people’s schedules are hectic, and they may miss a month or two. Just include on the list what your group read each month.

Besides getting an opportunity to see the Most Discussed Titles in 2010, which we will release in late February or early March, we will be awarding prizes. Thirty-three participating groups will be eligible to win 12 copies of a recently published or soon-to-be published book that is “book group perfect.” You can see the entire list of books
here. Note that prizes will be selected at random. This opportunity will be available until January 31, 2011 at 11:59PM ET, but may we suggest you click here now to list your titles? Please note that only U.S. and Canada residents are eligible to enter.


Click here to share your group's 2010 year-end selections.

Book Group Spotlight Feature: A New Jersey Group Reads THE WAVE by Susan Casey

Our new Book Group Spotlight Feature is designed to share a select group’s discussion with a larger audience. These interviews will be conducted with a book group member or members to give our readers an insightful look into one group’s discussion and its motivation for selecting the title.

The Book Group Spotlight Feature begins with an interview with Alice Dark, whose New Jersey-based group recently read and discussed
The Wave: In Search of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey. This group exclusively reads nonfiction titles each month, usually dealing with international affairs.

If you would like your group to be interviewed for a spotlight feature like this, please contact Maureen Linehan at
[email protected] with your name, the name of your group, some background on your group, and the title that you discussed. From there, we will select some groups to feature.


Click here to read our interview with Alice Dark about THE WAVE.'s Holiday Cheer Contest and Feature
The holiday season is upon us! At, this means it's time for us to share the spirit of the season with you with our Holiday Cheer Contest and Feature. This year, we're spotlighting a different title or two on select days through December 23rd, so you will have to check the site each day to see the featured prize book(s) and enter. We also are sending a special daily newsletter to announce the day's title(s), which you can sign up for here. Some days may feature special bonus prizes, including gourmet treats, holiday items, or even some of Carol's Bets On picks from this year.

This year's featured titles are:

-ARTISAN BREAD IN FIVE MINUTES A DAY by Jeff Herzberg, MD, and Zoë François
-ATLAS OF REMOTE ISLANDS by Judith Schalansky
-BLIND YOUR PONIES by Stanley Gordon West
-THE COLLECTIBLES by James J. Kaufman
-DELIRIOUS by Daniel Palmer
-EVERYTHING CHRISTMAS by David Bordon and Tom Winters
HEALTHY BREAD IN FIVE MINUTES A DAY by Jeff Herzberg, MD, and Zoë François
-KNIT THE SEASON by Kate Jacobs
-LADY IN WAITING by Susan Meissner
-THE LOST DOGS by Jim Gorant
-MY NEST ISN'T EMPTY, IT JUST HAS MORE CLOSET SPACE by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Scottoline Serritella
-PRAYERS AND LIES by Sherri Woods Emmons
-THE SIXTH SURRENDER by Hana Samek Norton
-TRUE GRIT: Movie Tie-In Edition by Charles Portis

Click here to read all the details of's Holiday Cheer Contest and Feature.'s "What to Give, What to Get" Feature: A Holiday Shopping Suggestion Guide

Headed out to do some holiday shopping? Before you go, check out our What to Give, What to Get feature with ideas in 14 categories.

This year's featured categories are:

-Eat, Drink & Be Merry: Cookbooks, Entertaining Guides and Culinary Tales
-Faces & Places: Biography, Memoir and History
-Graphic Reads: Graphic Novels to Enjoy
-Great Choices for Booklovers: Fiction and Nonfiction Highlights
-Healthy, Wealthy & Wise: Advice and How-To
-Holiday Spirit: Perfect Selections for Holiday Reading
-Inspirational: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction Highlights
-Just for Fun: Humor Books
-Kids' Finds: Books Kids Will Love
-Mystery Madness & Thrilling Reads: Mysteries, Thrillers and Suspense
-News, Events & Popular Culture: Current Events and Pop Culture
-Slam Dunks: Sports Titles
-Stocking Stuffers: Books Small Enough to Put in Stockings or Buy in Quantity
-Teens’ Choice: For Teens


Click here to see our "What to Give, What to Get" Gift Guide.'s Author Holiday Blogs --- Authors Write About Their Bookish Holiday Memories

Between now and New Year's Day, 50 authors will be sharing their favorite memories of giving or receiving a book at the holidays.

Here are links to some recent posts from authors who already have shared their stories:

-Katherine Howe on Presents and Self-Presentation
-Helen Simonson: The Rituals of Christmas
-Anne Perry on the Book That's Changed Her for the Better
-Anne Fortier on Holiday Magic
-Donna VanLiere: Autumn at Christmas
-A Radio Romance: Ken Harmon on Garrison Keillor's WLT
-Melissa Clark on the Holiday Cookbook That Changed Her Life
-Sheila Roberts: Would You See What I See?
-Susan Mallery: Books Can Be the Best of Friends
-William Kent Krueger on Shared Lives and Shared Poems

-Click here to subscribe to the Blog via RSS.
-Click here to subscribe to the Blog via Email.


Click here to read's Author Holiday Blogs.


What's New on the Blog

Our Blog continues to be a big hit among our readers. Throughout the month we are sharing postings from regular contributors --- including authors, librarians, book club facilitators, booksellers and experts in the publishing industry --- as well as special guests. The latest blog can be found here, and here are quick links to some recent posts:

-Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
-Lorelle Marinello: SALTING ROSES
-Sandra Rodriguez Barron: STAY WITH ME
-Are Kindles Making Reading Cool?
-Top 5 December Books
-2 Pick Tuesday: Classic Cyber Reading
-Happy Cyber Monday - Great Deals on Books!
-Discussing BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Frank Miller
-Forget Black Friday - Shop Small Business Saturday!
-Ditch Secret Santa & Try a Book Swap Instead

For those of you who use RSS feeds to keep track of your favorite blogs, you can now add the blog to your list by clicking the link on the blog page. Also, receive updates by email here. The blog is also shared on the Facebook page.

Click here to read the Blog.

Book Group Interviews: "The Reading Cove" and "The Lucky Tuesday Night Book Club"

This month we share two book group interviews with you.

Millenia is a founding member of The Reading Cove, an online book club with 25 members from around the country, and two members from overseas. In this interview, Millenia discusses how the group functions online, their discussions, and the fun way members devised to make the following month's selection.

Courtney Jones is a member of The Lucky Tuesday Night Book Club, a 14-member group based in Edmond, Oklahoma. In this interview, Courtney shares the group's only unanimous 5-star read, as well as their annual tradition and the inspiration for their name.

Click here to see all our interviews with book groups.

Book Groups, Librarians and Booksellers --- We Want to Hear From YOU!
Each month we feature interviews with book clubs from around the country on Interested in having your group spotlighted? Click here to read what to do.

We also like to feature interviews with librarians and booksellers from across the country in much the same way that we interview book groups each month. If you'd like to share your knowledge and opinions about book clubs with our readers, a link to the list of questions we'd like answered is available from the links below.

Please feel free to go beyond these questions and share with us anything about books clubs --- ones that meet in your library, your store, of which you're a member or ones that you've heard about --- that you think might interest our readers. When answering these questions, please keep in mind that our readers love to know what other groups are reading, so the more titles you include, the better!

-Librarians: Click here to see our interview instructions and questions for Librarians.

-Booksellers: Click here to see our interview instructions and questions for Booksellers.

Become a Fan of on Facebook and Goodreads! has a fan page on Facebook where we now have more than 3,100 fans! Here we feature our daily blogs and put out questions for discussion. We would love you to share pictures of your groups as well as comments on the books that we suggest. We look forward to seeing you as fans of on Facebook.

We have also created a group page for on Goodreads. Here we are building a virtual bookshelf of the titles we feature on the site. We are looking forward to further developing this page in the months to come.

-Click here to visit's Facebook page.
-Click here to visit's Goodreads page.


New Guides Now Available

Cleaving: A Story of Meat, Marriage, and Obsession by Julie Powell: Food once saved the life of the bestselling author of Julie and Julia, but now will it save her marriage?
Fleshmarket Alley by Ian Rankin: Inspector John Rebus explores Edinburgh’s seedy underbelly of sex, crime and power --- and crosses too many familiar faces.
The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin: Inspector John Rebus races the clock to uncover the bizarre death of a diplomat during an international political summit.
A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin: A former solider murders two teenagers and the Army tries to cover up the crime --- until Inspector John Rebus comes on the scene.
Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin: Inspector John Rebus straddles a dangerously thin line between good guys and bad cops, when two murder inquiries cross paths.
Salting Roses by Lorelle Marinello: A young woman abandoned as an infant on an Alabama porch is horrified to discover that she is the missing heiress to a vast Connecticut fortune --- a birthright she is desperate to reject in favor of her Peachtree Lane roots.
So Many Ways to Begin by Jon McGregor: A museum curator searches for answers to his true identity after learning he was adopted.
Stay with Me by Sandra Rodriguez Barron: Five shipwrecked toddlers approach adulthood, all linked by the devastating events that will forever bind them together.
The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia's Convict Women by Deborah J. Swiss: A true story about ordinary women who became extraordinary as they triumphed over tragedy, relying on their strength and resiliency alongside friendships with one another.
You Were Wrong by Matthew Sharpe: Darkly funny and original, You Were Wrong is a surreal detective story told with heart, wit and a singular voice.

Please note that these titles, for which we already had the guides when they appeared in hardcover, are now available in paperback:

La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith: From the bestselling author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series comes a delightful story about the restorative powers of friendship and music.
Rainwater by Sandra Brown: From acclaimed bestselling author Sandra Brown comes a powerfully moving novel celebrating the gifts, generosity and foresight of a great bygone generation.
The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova: The bestselling author of The Historian returns with a tale of obsession, the losses of history, and the power of art to preserve human hope.

The following guide is now available for Christian book groups:

Christmas at Harrington’s by Melody Carlson: A woman recently released from prison unexpectedly finds herself cast as Mrs. Santa at a department store.


This Month's Poll

Does your book club meet during the holiday season?

Yes, we have our usual book discussion.
Yes, but we have a party in lieu of a book discussion.
I'm not in a book club.
Other (please specify)


Click here to answer our poll.

This Month's Contest Book: ONE AMAZING THING by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Win a copy of One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni for your reading group!

To be a group to win 20 free copies of this book, all you have to do is sign up for the
newsletter by January 1, 2011. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

More about One Amazing Thing
Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers and even most office workers have come and gone, but nine people remain. When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping them together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There’s little food. The office begins to flood. As the psychological and emotional stress becomes nearly too much for them to bear, one of them suggests that each tell a personal tale, “one amazing thing” from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. As their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself.

Click here to read contest details and rules.


Do you like what you see here, and want to forward it to a friend? Then click our link on the bottom of the page to do just that!

Happy reading. We'll see you next month.

Don't forget to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

The Book Report Network
250 W. 57th Street - Suite 1228
New York, New York 10107